Traveling with your baby might be one of the most unforgettable moments in your life as a mom or dad. Creating new memories and experiencing new things in a different country with your little one is truly special. But it’s not always easy. Traveling with an infant requires careful planning. In addition to the stress of packing travel essentials for the baby, booking tickets, passing through all the security checks (and securing all the necessary documents), and ensuring your little one’s safety while traveling, you should also be mindful of ways to keep your baby healthy.
Did you know that the inside of an airplane is a major germ hotspot? From tray tables to aisle seats, bacteria happily thrive inside the plane, exposing you and your poor baby to varying illnesses and diseases. Well, your agony doesn’t end when you go down from the plane. Actually, it’s even worse in the airport! Surfaces in airport terminals may have even higher germ counts than on airplanes.
And, when you think you have finally survived by the time you exit the airport, think again. Food poisoning, germs in hotel surfaces, and so on are always ready to strike. Don’t worry, you need not cancel your travels abroad or leave your baby with the grandparents and take on the flight alone. With careful planning and preparation, you can protect your baby from health hazards.
Here are tips to stay healthy when traveling abroad with your baby:
Consult your pediatrician before you go.
Check with your pediatrician to know if your baby is old enough and well enough to travel, and if she needs certain vaccinations beforehand for extra protection. Your doctor can also offer suggestions on how to keep your baby healthy while traveling.
Choose the flight schedule that’s best for your baby.
The first step towards ensuring your baby’s health during travel is to choose the flight schedule that’s most suitable for your baby. As much as possible, book the trip during your baby’s sleepiest time. A well-slept baby is a happy and healthy baby. Just one day of sleep deprivation can greatly weaken your child’s immunity, increasing her risk of illness.
Pack your own food and medications.
At least for the initial flight, prepare your baby’s food, as not all airlines have it on their menu. It is also a great way to ensure that your child is hydrated and eating healthy foods. Also, don’t forget to bring a little first aid kit and some basic medications, such as paracetamol, antihistamine, and any other medications or vitamins that were prescribed by your child’s pediatrician.
Keep surfaces around you and your baby clean.
Don’t forget to bring a few must-haves, such as hand sanitizers and some travel size medical-grade disinfectant wipes. Clean surfaces like arm rests, screens, table trays, head rests, and anything else your baby comes in contact with using disinfecting wipes.
Take care of babys tummy.
Diarrhea and gastrointestinal illness are among the most common problems that younger kids and infants experience when travelling abroad. That is because they have little immunity against food-and waterborne pathogens. Breastfeeding is a great way to supply your baby with immunity-boosting nutrients s/he needs to fight digestive disorders. If breastfeeding in public places is not an option for you, you can use a good breast pump and wash the parts with hot, distilled water. Ask your pediatrician about probiotic supplements, and use purified water when brushing teeth, preparing food and mixing formula. If your baby has food allergies or requires a special formula, research what the brand equivalents at your destination are and know where to find them before you go.
Make sure your baby is well-rested.
All throughout your travels, allow your baby to rest and get enough sleep. You might be tempted to spend the entire day outside of your hotel, but you need to consider your baby’s sleep requirements. A well-rested baby is a healthy baby. If it isn’t possible to return to the hotel, make sure that your baby has a comfortable space and quiet environment when taking a nap. We’ve napped just about everywhere, like under a shaded beach tent/umbrella or simply reclining the stroller flat and using a sun shade (we love throwing a muslim Aden & Anais blanket on top of the stroller canopy for extra sun protection too).
Know about the nearest hospitals or clinics.
If your baby has symptoms of flu or any illness, you want to find a doctor as soon as possible. Part of your trip preparation would be to look for hospitals or pediatric clinics where you can take your baby in case of sickness or emergencies. (We have these all laid out for you in our complete Destination Guides.)
Observe food safety measures.
Food poisoning, diarrhea and other digestive problems are normally caused by contaminated food. If you’re feeding your baby with dairy products, make sure they are pasteurized. Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly, and avoid buying snacks from sources where food might be unsafe. If your child is eating fish or meat, make sure it’s thoroughly cooked.
Whenever planning for a trip, remember to stay on top of your baby’s health, and hopefully avoid a dream family vacation turning into an unexpected nightmare. Things will undoubtedly happen from time-to-time, however, and you’ll forever be thankful for your preparation and planning in case of minor accident or illness.
Written by Mariam Novak